Sub-theme 50: Activity Theory and Organizations
Call for Papers
Cultural-Historical Activity Theory (CHAT), rooted in the legacy of Vygotsky, Leont'ev and Luria, is a multidisciplinary
theory, which has gained increasing popularity and relevance among researchers in the field of organization studies (Adler,
2005; Blackler, 2009). CHAT is inherently a dialectical theory and thus a relevant approach for crossing boundaries and bridging
of different systems and worldviews. CHAT provides analytical, conceptual tools, such as models of activity systems, concepts
of contradiction and zones of proximal development to examine organizations as designed by human beings (Engeström, 2006;
Engeström & Sannino, 2011).
CHAT has proven to be a useful theory, for example in the following areas of organization studies:
- Strategic management
- Organizational learning and competencies
- Organizational change management
CHAT includes an interventionist methodology for development of organizations.
The methodology has various applications, such as the Change Laboratory method and the Clinic of Activity. The use of CHAT
in the study of organizations has, however, not yet deeply anchored in discussions within organization studies. The aim of
this sub-theme is to bring together scholars using activity-theoretical frameworks and to develop and cultivate the use of
CHAT in organization studies further.
In this sub-theme we identify a range of themes concerning activity theory and organizations. We welcome papers examining themes such as:
- Agency and multivoicedness in organizations
- Dialectical contradictions and their resolutions in organizations
- Concept formation in patchwork-like organizations
- Organizational boundary crossing and knotworking
- Multiple tool constellations and their role in managing diversity in organizations
We also invite contributions that deal with other, related themes and appreciate papers establishing a dialogue between CHAT and other practice-based theories (Miettinen et al., 2009). We are also interested in theoretical papers taking a critical stance towards CHAT as a theory. We welcome innovative, theoretical and empirical work as well as both micro- and macro-level analysis. We especially appreciate empirical papers using CHAT as a methodological tool in the study of organizations.
Adler, Paul S. (2005): 'The evolving object of software development.' Organization, 12 (3), 401–436.
Blackler, Frank (2009): 'Cultural-historical activity theory and organization studies.' In: A. Sannino, H. Daniels & K.D. Gutiérrez (eds.): Learning and Expanding with Activity Theory. New York: Cambridge University Press, 19–39.
Engeström, Yrjö (2006): 'Activity theory and expansive design.' In: S. Bagnara & G. Crampton-Smith (eds.): Theories and Practice in Interaction Design. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 3–23.
Engeström, Yrjö & Annalisa Sannino (2011): 'Discursive manifestations of contradictions in organizational change efforts: a methodological framework.' Journal of Organizational Change Management, 24 (3), 368–387.
Miettinen, Reijo, Dalvir Samra-Fredericks & Dvora Yanow (2009): 'Re-turn to practice: an introductory essay.' Organization Studies, 30 (12), 1309–1327.